Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus in medical terms, affects a large portion of the world’s population. It is an infection that affects one or more of a person’s nails. The infection at its onset begins as a small white or yellow spot that gets more discolored as the infection progresses. It has been observed that nail infections develop more in toenails than fingernails.
How to Cure Nail Fungal Infections?
Toenails are more susceptible to nail fungus infection, as they are more often than not confined within the shoes creating a moist and warm breeding ground for fungi to thrive and grow. Also as the blood circulation to the feet is slightly lesser than to fingernails hence making it difficult for the body immune system to identify and eliminate infections. Nail infections are generally painless and hence people tend to ignore the symptoms. However, it is important for one to seek the advice of a foot doctor when the symptoms or pain increases.
We will continue this article discussing ten home remedies that will help quickly cure your toenail fungus. In the past people have used common household products to treat nail fungus. Whilst it’s true that most home remedies are not backed by clinical trials, their effectiveness is based upon many generations of experience of users with nail fungus. Natural cures are also popular as they reduce the chances of side effects from prescription medicines. They’re generally more cost effective too and because they contain only natural plant derived ingredients, they are considered safer than using chemical products.
But before you attempt any of these, remember to use a nail cutter and cut any part of your toenail that is exposed. Next, take a filer and gently file your nails before you proceed.
- Vinegar Vinegar is a natural antifungal agent. “Take a vinegar foot bath” has been common advice for many generations. With the application of vinegar, your skin’s pH levels will start to balance naturally. This will kill the bacteria and your nails will no longer play host to further fungal growth. The good thing is, that you can literally just go to your kitchen and use any vinegar that is available since they are all acidic in nature.
- Listerine Listerine is also a great way to eliminate any fungal growth. Listerine has impressive antiseptic properties which helps reduce pain or swelling that you may be experience due to uneven nail growth. Furthermore, the agents in Listerine help shed infected nail fragments and they encourage cell production. You can use Listerine in combination with vinegar and enjoy the healing properties of both agents together.
- Vicks Vapor Rub While not natural, one of the best ways to kill nail fungus is with a topical application of Vicks, daily to the infected nails. With a regular application, Vicks will start getting to work on the dead keratin surrounding the nails. This is the yellow flaky substance that looks so unsightly. With continued treatment. Vicks will start to work its way underneath the nailbed and into the infected skin, killing the nail fungus spores. Topical treatments can produce positive results and start building healthier nails in as little as two weeks.
- Tea Tree Oil The problem with treating yourself with vinegar or Vicks every day is that it will eventually get tiresome and you will probably give up because of the odor and inconvenience. A more effective way to treat nail fungus is by using a solution containing plant ingredients with naturally occurring medicinal properties. One of the most effective of these plants is tea tree oil. This comes from the Melaleuca tree and has been used by the Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years as a natural antiseptic.
- Jojoba and Almond Oil Other ingredients such as almond oil and jojoba are useful for promoting healthy nail growth as they nourish and provide moisture to dry or cracked skin around the infected area.
- Hydrogen Peroxide Everyone has a bottle of hydrogen peroxide lying at home. It’s used all the time! Cleaning ears is among the many famous uses for peroxide. However, you can also treat your toenail fungus with peroxide. The only thing to remember is that use a 3% concentration of peroxide. Do not use a stronger concentration or you may experience irritation afterwards.
- Epsom Salt Epsom salt is loaded with many advantageous properties that will help defeat any sort of fungus growing on your toenails. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and is loaded with antibacterial properties that will help fight your fungus from the moment you start using it. You just need to rub some salt on your toes. It is advisable to dissolve the salt in vinegar before you proceed (mostly for the ease of application).
- Baking Soda Did you know that baking soda is one of the most powerful antifungal agents that are most commonly available in your home? The best way to administer this type of treatment is to mix baking soda with a little bit of water and then gently apply it to the affected area. Make sure to use more baking soda than water, otherwise the solution will get really diluted and the effectiveness will go down.
- Honey Honey has so many uses, it is impossible to list them all. It is one of the best gifts of nature! Whenever you experience an issue, always look up if honey will do you any good. It not only tastes good but also helps in healing all sorts of fungal problems. It helps draw out the toxins from your finger nails and you will see the difference typically in a couple weeks or so. The best way to treat your toenails with honey is by direct application. Once you have honey on your nail, make sure you cover it so that it remains intact.
- Bleach Several people have applied bleach and had successful results in eliminating toenail fungi of all types. I know this works, however, you need to be a bit careful when using bleach. Make sure to dilute the solution properly, or may do more harm than good. You can rinse the affected area with the diluted solution couple times a day until you completely get rid of the fungus.
Other Treatment Methods Include:
Over the counter ointments and creams are available that provide some relief. However, if the infection has progressed and there is odor from the nail bed or formation of pus, oral medications are prescribed to abate the infection. Oral medication, is the most effective nail infection cure. A medical practitioner may prescribe a combination of Terbinafine or Itraconazole to treat the fungus based on the symptoms and the severity of the infection.
Topical medications: The medical practitioner will file the surface of the nail and then prescribe topical anti-fungal medications in combination with over the counter anti-fungal lotions.
Anti-fungal lacquer: A mild or moderate infection is generally treated by a prescription of anti-fungal nail polish known as Penlac. This needs to be topically applied on the infected nails. Though this method of treatment takes a long time, satisfactory results have been documented.
Surgery: In some cases, where the infection causes severe pain and discomfort, minor surgery is advised. The nail is removed and a new nail grows back with time.
Laser therapy: An intense beam of light is focused on the nail to treat the infection. Post laser therapy the infected nail is treated with acid.
A stitch in time saves nine, taking necessary preventive measures, saves one from the emotional stigma of nail fungus and the discomfort of the infection itself. Maintaining good personal hygiene is the key to prevention.
Symptoms and Causes of Nail Fungus
The symptoms include but are not limited to: Thick toenails, Discolored and dull nails that lack luster, Distorted nails, Brittle and crumbly nails and a slight foul odor emanating from the nail bed. Nail fungal infections are generally caused by dermatophytes, a group of fungi. These infections are also caused by molds and yeasts. Prolonged exposure to warmth and moisture makes a breeding ground for fungi, which results in nail infections.
Other causes may include: Wearing closed or tight footwear, Exposure to harsh chemicals or soaps, Excessive sweating and inadequate personal hygiene
While these are the most common causes for nail infections it is also noticed that people who suffer from psoriasis have a higher risk of contracting the infection. Likewise, people who have athlete’s foot are seen to develop nail infections. Other factors that increase the risk of contracting Onychomycosis are as follows:
- Working in an environment that is humid or moist
- Walking bare-foot in public places such as pools and gyms
- Having a minor cut of infection on the feet and leaving it unattended
- Weak immune system
- Having diabetes and other circulation problems
If you want to reduce the risk of nail fungus and also avoid recurrent infections, you should maintain good hand and foot hygiene by following these steps:
- Keep your nails short, dry and clean. Clean – because dirt may include fungus. Short because long nails have a larger area for the fungus to grasp, and long nails allow the fungus to accumulate towards the area under the nails. In addition, short nails are let exposed to injuries and trauma. Dry – fungus need moister to grow.
- Wear clean, dry appropriate socks. Synthetic socks instead of cotton or wool helps to evaporate sweat and moisture and keep your feet dry. Change your sox often, at least once a day or more if your feet sweat excessively.
- Avoid biting fingernails. It brings germs into your mouth, and may create small cuts in the nails area that may draw infection.
- Let your feet breath. Take your shoes and sox off occasionally during the day and immediately after workout or exercise. Wear sandals or open-toed shoes if possible.
- Use an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial spray or powder. Spray or sprinkle your feet and the insides of your shoes, you can find these simple items at any pharmacy.
- Wear gloves. Protects your hands against over-exposure to water, especially when you wash dishes or clean your house. Disposable gloves are preferred and if you use rubber gloves turn them inside out to dry, and don’t use them until they are fully dried.
- Avoid too much trimming or picking at your nails or the skin around them. This allows fungus, bacteria and germs access into your skin and nails.
- Don’t go barefoot in public places. Wear shoes when you visit public pools, or walk into showers and locker rooms & spas. Opened toes shoes and sandals are sufficient.
- Wash your feet after visiting public places like swimming pools. Fungus thrives in warm moist areas such as spas, swimming pools, public showers or locker rooms. After a visit in such public places, wash your feet carefully and dry them well.
- Choose a reputable manicure / pedicure salon. Visit only a place that sterilizes its instruments.
- Give up nail polish and artificial nails. These can increase the infection. Your preliminary instinct may be to hide nail fungal infections with nail polish, it’s the last thing you should do. It may prevent the treatment’s effect.
- Make sure your healthy nails are not infected. Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Use different Nail scissors for healthy nails and infected nails. Don’t forget – fungus can easily spread from nail to nail.
- Avoid “digging-out” or massing with ingrown toenails. This may create an infection, see a dermatologist for treatment and don’t try to treat ingrown nails yourself.
- Be aware of nail problems. Learn about them and it will help you cope with nail fungus infection if occurs much better the average person.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and alternate pairs. Tight shoes may create pressure on your nails causing trauma that can get infected. Make sure you don’t use the same pare, that may accrue moister – and draw fungus.
- Do not neglect your nails. Report any nail disorder to your dermatologist once spotted. Nail share or color changes, pain and swelling can signal a serious medical condition.
- At the first sign of a problem, see a dermatologist.
As you can see, that’s a long list but it’s very simple to follow & understand. The most important tip I can give you is to be aware. Awareness means taking care of your body’s health and hygiene. Have a balanced diet and exercise to stay in good health and keep your immune system strong and active. Your nails condition is directly affected by your general health, so keep this all in mind, and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Keep nails short, regularly file and cut nails, keep them dry to avoid contracting an infection, sprinkle anti-fungal powders on the insides of footwear, avoid walking bare-foot in public places, maintain separate cutters and filers for normal and infected nails, do not pick on skin surrounding the nails, wear a good pair of socks that help absorb sweat and moisture and wash socks after wear and change them in case of excessive sweating. Onychomycosis is hard to treat and recurrent. Small life-style changes like incorporating a healthy diet and good personal hygiene helps prevent nail infections.